The Cubs continued to own the Pirates in 2023, completing their second three-game sweep of Pittsburgh in nine days. Chicago came through repeatedly with runners in scoring position to take home their 10th win in the last 12 contests.
Kyle Hendricks was excellent again but did give up an early run on a Josh Palacios double in the bottom of the 2nd. The Cubs responded immediately in the next frame with a Miguel Amaya double and a Mike Tauchman walk to put two on with one out for Nico Hoerner. The shortstop slashed a Rich Hill offering into the right field corner for a two-run triple and then would come in to score on a Seiya Suzuki sacrifice fly to put the road team ahead 3-1.
Ian Happ padded Chicago’s lead with a two-bagger that plated a pair in the top of the 5th, then an opposite-field solo home run from Hoerner made it 6-1 after six. Hendricks got all the way to the 7th inning before a hit and two walks loaded the bases and forced him out. Mark Leiter Jr. appeared to get out of the jam with a ground ball to first, but an absolutely brutal error by Trey Mancini allowed two runs to score.
The North Siders responded with a couple of big insurance runs off of Yerry De Los Santos on a single from Nick Madrigal in the 8th. Julian Merryweather and Michael Fulmer took care of the final two innings to seal the 8-3 victory. (Box score)
Leiter took a nasty fall trying to catch Mancini’s terrible throw on the error in the 7th. He composed himself and was able to get a ground ball from Ji Hwan Bae, who represented the tying run, to avoid further damage.
Why the Cubs Won
Quality hitting with runners in scoring position and solid starting pitching has been the winning formula of late. Two big extra-base hits and a nice start from The Professor did the trick on Wednesday.
Stats That Matter
- Hendricks was very good again before tiring a bit in his final inning: 6.1 IP, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 K, and 3 BB.
- Hoerner had 3 RBI and continues to be huge with men on base this season.
- Happ beat up on his hometown team with two more hits and he has now reached base 52 consecutive games against the Pirates.
The Cubs went 8-1 in this critical nine-game stretch against the Pirates and Orioles, so what seemed like something that might end their season has actually rejuvenated it. Chicago did not let up after winning the first two games of the series, which has been a problem through most of 2023.
The Cubs hop across the pond for two games in London against the Cardinals starting Saturday at 12:05pm CT. Justin Steele is scheduled to face Adam Wainwright in a matchup broadcast on FOX and 670 The Score.